How to Talk About Projects in Your Job Interviews
When you’re looking for a job, getting your foot in the door is just the beginning. A job interview means you have to be able to talk clearly about the projects you’ve worked on — and sometimes that can be a challenge, especially if you’re being interviewed by people who aren’t tech experts. So what’s to be done?
“We've all heard the old adage ‘show, don't tell;’ in this case showing could be the thing that gets you the job offer,” says career coach April Klimkiewicz.
Hosting your tech or engineering projects in a digital portfolio can help demonstrate that you've done the work to meet their need.
Here’s how to do it.
CREATE A PORTFOLIO
When you’re preparing your resume, take the time to build a tech profile as well. This will help you demonstrate that you’ve done the work to meet the employer’s need, Klimkiewicz says.
“You’ll want to be able to talk about these things during the interview, but having the digital portfolio to back up your interview answers is even more powerful.”
Collect examples of projects you've created and solutions you've come up with — the more interactive the better, Klimkiewicz says.
“This could be work you've done for a previous company or a game showcasing specific skills you've created just for fun,” she says.
Hosting it on your own website is best if you can, but be sure to redact sensitive information or create a mock version of the project if needed.
SHOW HOW, NOT WHAT
During the interview, look for ways to show your project on a tablet while walking the employer through it.
“When they ask a question directly related to project experience, ask if they'd mind if you took a few moments to walk them through a particular project while you answer their question,” Klimkiewicz says. “Likely they'll say yes, and as a bonus, you'll be able to demonstrate presentation and communication skills in addition to the tech and engineering skills required to create the project.”
As you talk about the project, be sure to highlight how you approached the problem or challenge and provide details on how you dealt with any setbacks. That way you can provide information about the technical skills you have, as well as any problem-solving or collaborative skills.
FOCUS ON THE EMPLOYER
As heady as it is to show off your work, you’ll need to think fast to make your projects relevant to what the interviewer is asking about.
“It’s great to talk about all the wonderful things you've done in the past, but if you're able to connect the dots between work you've done and why that meets the need of the current employer, you're already showing the important role you could play as a new hire,” Klimkiewicz says.
Ideally you’ve done some research before the interview, or the position you’re interviewing for will make it clear what the employer is looking for. During the interview, make your responses about them and how you can serve their company, Klimkiewicz says. Doing so will help them visualize you as an employee.